November 10, 2017: Port Royal Drops Anchor!
Travel back to the 17th century at the height of piracy with Port Royal! This European favorite, now available in the United States thanks to Steve Jackson Games, is a press-your-luck, card-drafting game. Merchant players vie to establish the most lucrative trade empire in the Caribbean by hiring crew, trading with ships, and the occasional bit of plunder.
Designed by Austrian Alexander Pfister and originally published in 2013 as Händler der Karibik, Port Royal quickly racked up the awards: in addition to the Austrian Game Designers Competition, Port Royal also won the 2013 Wiener Spiele Akademie Game Designer Award, 2014 Fairplay À la Carte Award, and 2015 Vuoden Peli Family Game of the Year.
The game's first English-language release came in 2014, published in conjunction with the German version, through Pegasus Spiele. It featured an expanded 120-card deck to accommodate five players, but the fun, easy-to-learn gameplay remained the same. Players had the ability to hire 11 types of citizens (like the powerful Pirate, handy Jack of All Trades, and persuasive Mademoiselle), using some to complete Expeditions and secure Influence Points, with others providing advantages when hiring additional crew or trading with merchant ships.
Longtime players may notice a few other differences in the Steve Jackson Games release. Person cards are now Character cards, and Expeditions have become Missions. Rather than trade with ships distinguished only by color (e.g., yellow, blue, orange), the artwork has been upgraded so that ships now fly under the flag of one of five countries: Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain, or the United States.
Rest assured, would-be-buccaneers, even with these changes, the core gameplay remains the same! According to Randy Scheunemann, Port Royal Line Editor at Steve Jackson Games, the company loved the "elegant simplicity" of the game and got involved through their connection to Pegasus Spiel. Working with Pfister the entire time, SJ Games made sure to preserve "what people already loved . . . because it was already great."
So hire on some Sailors (and maybe a Priest, Trader, and Settler or two), and set sail for adventure in Port Royal - at your local game store or on Warehouse 23 now!
-- Tyeera Garza
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